We’ve all been there at one time or another: on a trip far from home when we realize we don’t have something we need.
Either we forgot it or we didn’t know we’d need it in the first place. SO frustrating!
Unfortunately, many of us don’t know what we don’t know (or in this case, what travel gear we don’t know we need) and end up learning the hard way.
Until now, that is.
I asked 23 pro travelers what they consider their must-have travel gear when they’re on the road.
Before I share what they told me, here are 3 of my must-haves.
A Traveling Broad
When I go away, I travel light whether I’m traveling by car or plane. I hate lugging a bunch of stuff I don’t need and spending time waiting for my luggage at baggage claim.
I always take my digital camera with me so 2 of my must-have pieces of travel gear are camera accessories: (1) extra SD memory cards and (2) a camera battery charger for my digital camera.
The 3rd but most important item is my carryon bag.
Since I’m an avid photographer who typically takes hundreds of photos on my trips, having a few extra SD memory cards with me allows me to continue taking photos without skipping a beat. Since I like my photos to be high-quality, each photo takes up a lot of space on the SD card. Having several extra SD cards with me allows me to switch them out quickly on the go.
I have an awesome Canon digital camera with a long-lasting lithium-ion battery. However, eventually the battery runs out, so I always pack my camera battery charger so I don’t miss out on any photo opportunities.
Lastly, I take only a carryon. I found one that is nice, roomy yet compact, and meets the TSA size guidelines: the Biaggi Leggero 22″ Foldable Spinner Carryon. It has a retractable handle, 4 spinner wheels to help me maneuver easily through a crowded airport, and folds into a fraction of its size making it easy to store in my closet, under the bed, or in a drawer. And, it comes in a variety of cool colors (mine is my favorite color – purple!)
Now, here’s what the other pro travelers said are their travel gear must-haves…
A small travel sized power bar will take you from zero to hero at the local coffee shop or the departure lounge as you wait. We all have our electronic leashes and there are never enough outlets. A small 4 outlet power bar is like a magnet to discharged travelers, you’d be amazed at the conversations you’ll strike up and the people you’ll meet wanting to plug in. Go a step further and get a version that also has USB charging ports and you’ll never be drained.
It seems so cliché to say but I don’t know where I would be when traveling without my smartphone. As much as I travel to get away from it all and disconnect my smartphone is never far away. While organizing data can be difficult and relying on WiFi somewhat spotty in the end it’s so worth it. In foreign countries, my smartphone becomes my security blanket. I can pull up my maps, see where I am and where I’m going. It can translate foreign languages in a flash to avoid misunderstandings and awkward situations. It can help you chill out after a long day with your favorite music. It will help you find the best local attractions and steer you away from tourist traps. These are just a few of the reasons a smartphone is my top travel accessory. And the best part is, when you’re tired of being connected you just get to turn it off.
– By Patrick Horsfield
We are a family of four from Australia who have embarked on an adventure to travel around Europe indefinitely.
We have businesses that are run online and were wanting to homeschool our children so one of the things we knew we had to have a solid solution for, was wifi access while we were traveling. We did lots of research into how we could have the constant access we were used to, that multiple devices could run from, whilst being totally mobile.
We found an amazing solution in the Hippocket. Named for its size, Hippocket is a wifi hotspot hub that fits in your pocket, giving constant internet access to up to ten devices at once. This means for us we can have all our laptops and phones connected at the same time. There are short and long-term plans available in France and all over Europe.
For us, the 6 month+/50GB plan was the best option which works out to cost 60 Euro a month (approximately $71 US). It has been invaluable for our businesses and school work, as we hoped, but has also enabled things like watching Netflix, researching our next destination, staying in touch with friends and family and using google maps GPS.
The rental terms are flexible, meaning you can extend or shorten your rental. The intent access is unlimited and high-speed 4G, although it will slow down to 2G if you pass your plan’s limit (10GB, 30GB or 50GB) until the next month. Hippocket is delivered to you free of charge with a prepaid return envelope. If you don’t have an address you can have Hippocket delivered to a post box and instructions on how to retrieve will be sent to you.
This device has made our nomadic lifestyle possible and we highly recommend it.
– By Jennifer Birkhead
I’m all about health when I travel.
The first thing I always take with me is a good green powder so I can always get an easy serving of vegetables each day. This is particularly useful when you’ve been moving a lot and your diet is suffering from all the 7-Eleven and kebab dinners. Onnit is my brand of choice – I love them!
Another thing I have are some resistance bands so I can always get a workout, no matter where I am. I’m a fan of the SKLZ brand.
Lastly, I always have a good probiotic to keep my guts healthy, especially if traveling to places where the food hygiene might be a bit dodgy. This is great for places where traveler’s diarrhea can be a problem – a healthy gut always helps you recover much quicker, and often prevents you from having problems at all.
– By Brendan
It took me ages and many duds to finally find the perfect purse for traveling. I was searching for something that was well designed but also looks great, and wasn’t going to break the bank. Unfortunately, most of the travel purses out there look like they were designed for those who care way more about function than fashion. Thankfully, along came the Arden Cove Travel Purse.
This bag is not only super stylish but also has so many great features! It has anti-RFID material, it’s waterproof, is slash-proof, has locking zippers, and has a removable strap that can easily be attached to a chair or table leg (I don’t know about you but I’m the worst for hanging my bag over the back of a chair where someone could easily grab it!). It’s also the perfect size, it carries most smaller items I need throughout the day and also fits easily into my backpack for when I don’t want to go over the carryon limit while flying. Now that I’ve found it, I will definitely not be traveling without it!
The Eagle Creek Convertabrief bag easily converts between a backpack and briefcase. It has plenty of storage including a separate laptop and tablet compartment. The main compartment is big enough for camera bags, odds and ends, or could be used for clothes for a quick weekend getaway. It also has loads of smaller pockets to fit just about everything. It feels well-padded and sturdy. I have no fear of anything ripping or tearing. This bag is definitely a great investment for the regular traveler.
– By Anna & Trevor
Protecting your valuables is a major consideration when traveling. That exciting vacation that you have planned to that far away destination can quickly come to a halt should the unexpected happen and you become a victim of physical or identity theft.
Not only do you need to careful not to leave your valuables within easy reach of anyone wanting to relieve you of your precious goods, but you also need to be mindful that your credit cards or passport are protected even if they are stored out of immediate sight.
An increasing form of theft is by card skimming personal information via portable electronic devices, whereby your personal data from credit cards or any cards that have an embedded RFID chip can be read and recorded without your knowledge. These devices are becoming increasingly popular not only in major tourist destinations but also many cities and towns around the world.
Thankfully these days there are many cardholders, backpacks, purses and bags that have built-in protection from these skimming devices and the good news is that they are not expensive considering the potential heartache should you become a victim of card skimming theft.
Here is a selection of 3 of our favorites:
- Pacsafe Venturesafe X22 Anti-Theft Adventure Backpack is a lightweight backpack with built-in RFID blocking together with the added peace of mind of also having anti-slash webbing to prevent physical access to the pack.
- Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Travel Bag can be worn as a cross-body or a shoulder bag and comes with RFID Blocking Card and Passport Slots together with Slash-Proof Adjustable Straps sewn into the lining if the shoulder strap.
- Eagle Creek Universal-Traveler Backpack RFID is a larger backpack great for anyone requiring extra room and again has built in RFID blocking together with padded 17-inch laptop compartment and tablet/iPad pocket.
– By Alan & Rosalind Cuthbertson
As a traveler, I find that my best friend on those long bus rides around Southeast Asia is my Amazon Kindle. Nothing passes the time like a good book. While you could get it on your phone, I prefer the actual unit from Amazon.
The second thing that I find very useful in Asia is my compass. Directions are not always the best and knowing which way is actually north and how to read what movement you are trying to make is pretty important.
One final thing that can be pretty important is my Sony HDR AS300 action camera. He is light and handy for doing videos on the fly.
Our first priority is having our baggage sorted as we only travel carry-on it is essential to use a packing cube. We purchased a Portable Locker from Eagle Creek which was perfect as we can hang it in a closet and all our gear is easy to access. It also has a separate section where you can keep your dirty laundry which is helpful when you are moving around constantly. This is no longer available but their packing systems are very good quality and lasted our three years on the road on a motorbike looking as good as they did the day we brought them.
Secondly is our iPhone this is used for maps and keeping in touch with home but most importantly we use a budgeting app called Trail Wallet (only available for iPhones) designed by a nomadic traveler. The app allows you to keep an eye on your spending with the added bonus of converting the total back to your home currency, which means you can easily get a sense of whether what you are buying is expensive or not. It makes it so easy to keep on budget meaning, of course, you can travel longer.
Our final item is a Jackson adapter with 4 USB charge points. We used to travel with a board but discovered as most things are now charged by USB this is adequate for what we need. This allows us to charge laptops, cameras, and phones so we can work on the road. It is inexpensive, very light, takes up no space and works easily with an adapter.
– By Ron & Michelle Legge
Roll-up space bags are super helpful for packing everything into the most compact luggage.
– By Michelle
I always travel with my two kids in tow, so one of the most valuable accessories for me is my multiple passport holder. This keeps all the family’s passports together in one place, together with baggage tags etc. and saves me endlessly rummaging around in my bag looking for them.
Secondly, I always travel with a multiple device charger. We often have three iPads, two phones, two laptops and two Kindles with us when we travel and the last thing you want is everyone fighting over who gets to charge their iPad first!
The final thing we always take with us is our Mifold portable car booster seat. We do a lot of traveling to and from airports in taxis or hotel cars and if we are on a city break, we usually take a taxi across town at some point too. So having a portable booster seat with us is essential for the safety of the kids. The best thing about the Mifold for travelers is that it is one-tenth of the size of a regular booster seat, and folds up small enough to be able to fit into your handbag!
– By Marianne Rogerson
I set off traveling 4 years ago planning to blog using just my iPad mini and the WordPress app. How minimalist! Actually, how naive. I soon crumbled and purchased a MacBook Air and set away furiously typing only to have a recurring wrist injury floor me. I dreamt of my beloved vertical ergonomic mouse (now sitting in a drawer at home) and as soon I could, I repurchased. No, it’s not cheap. And it’s not small and compact but it meant I could work without pain and it now goes everywhere with me.
In addition to this I always, always pack my laptop in a soft cover and then slip it into this ultra-lightweight dry bag by Exped. The medium-sized one is the perfect size for most smaller laptops and I put my camera, Kindle, and iPad in there too. I’ve seen too many bits of kit damaged by something simple like a leaking water bottle to not protect it.
To protect my kit when I’m not near it I use a Pacsafe Travelsafe 5L. It fits an 11”MacBook Air, my small compact camera, passport, money and other small items. It gives peace of mind that anyone but a determined and tooled up thief would struggle to prize it free. Assuming, of course, it’s lashed to something suitably solid!
Hotels never seem to enough power points for all of our electronics. As a family of three, we have two laptops, 3 mobile phones and two tablets to recharge. There never seem to be enough power outlets available. And when traveling overseas, it’s too cumbersome to pack multiple adaptors to suit the local power sockets, so instead, we always travel with a power board with USB ports to easily charge our phones and one adaptor.
I am an SEO copywriter and content strategist and I work with clients from all around Australia, even though I’m based overseas. I am more of a ‘digital plonker’ than a digital nomad – I like to stay in the one place for a while.
While traveling (or plonking!) having a local Skype number has helped me secure more work because I’m so easy to contact and for my clients, it feels like they’re doing business with someone locally. My clients are often surprised to learn that I’m in Vietnam or Korea, not Melbourne.
My Skype number is essential for running my business. Skype also helps me keep in touch with family and friends back home, affordably. I’m only ever a phone call away.
– By Sandra Muller
My must-have item when traveling would definitely have to be my camera! I have a Canon Rebel T5i DSLR camera, which has been with me for nearly 4.5 years now having been taken on mostly all my trips. I am by no means a pro, but love the challenge of learning new things so picking up a DSLR a few years ago was a great opportunity for me to learn a new skill to further my photography and find a new hobby I’m totally passionate about.
This camera has been to some of the most incredible places with me, and definitely not something I ever leave behind whether I’m going on a long weekend around Europe, or just for a day out adventuring in the city or by the sea. I find myself being drawn to places I may have missed out on because I’ve seen a photo of it somewhere, and having photography as a hobby while traveling has allowed me to break out and see things in a new way. A great camera for beginners and an item that I’m sure you won’t leave behind in you have one yourself!
– By Laura Oxley
Travelling with three kids is full of adventure and we love items that make travel easier, safe and educational.
We travel carry-on only so we can travel lightly, keep our hands free, and unpack and pack more easily.
Our favorite travel bag is the Osprey Porter 46L. It is the largest carry-on bag. We just used it for 3 months through Asia and it was perfect.
My kids love writing a travel journal to record their favorite experiences and have great memories of their adventures. We use the Travel With Kids journal which has space for writing about 3 sentences and a space for adding a photo or drawing. It also includes some fun travel games, songs, and coloring spaces.
To make sure my kids are safe while we travel they wear ID tags made especially by my friend April. They have all the essential information including both parents contact details, allergies. I also include an accommodation card written in the local language just in case. We had to use this once in Beijing when my daughter got lost on a train and we were so thankful she had it on her.
– By Bron Lees
I love to travel so much I wouldn’t want anything to hold me back from having an amazing experience. Therefore, I pack a few really useful items every time, so that whatever happens, I’m ready.
Being an avid pedestrian, I love discovering the true heart of where I am visiting. By walking the streets of a new destination, the sights, smells, sounds, and energies envelop me, and in this way I often discover something unusual or unique. It’s also a great excuse to go on a little food or drink trail 😉
A packet of Compeed plasters are invaluable to me; one blister could ruin my attempt at sampling everything at the street market or hiking to the fabulous sunset vista. They are like a sachet of second skin, and stay on my feet, come shower, bath or souk market shop.
It’s so much fun exploring everything that a place has to offer, but accidents do happen. Most often for me, that’s an oops in the dirt department. A tuk-tuk ride in an African capital, a gelato on the Amalfi coast, or a ‘gift’ from a passing parakeet in Sydney have all made their marks. That’s why I always pack a travel wash bar. This small soap enables me to quickly create a mini laundry in my accommodation’s bath or shower and hey presto, we’re clean again! It’s a winner for keeping the packing light too.
Finally, my all-time favorite travel essential is travel insurance. It enables me to relax; if something goes missing or I need medical assistance, I’m covered. Generally, I keep myself safe and sound, but that doesn’t mean bad drivers, mosquitoes, and broken drains don’t try and thwart my day. In the end, you can’t predict the future, but you sure can cover your ass…and assets!
– By Annie Soul
We’re on a year-long journey around the world with two young kids, so I can’t live without my huge Thule Versant 60L backpack! I can take all of the clothing for myself and the kids, while my husband takes his clothing, shoes, toiletries and the rest.
I tested a bunch of great travel backpacks for women and loved the Thule Versant for its adjustable harness to accommodate my petite frame. As a bonus, on shorter trips when it’s not filled to capacity I can actually take it as a carry-on! The quality is also excellent and I expect this backpack to last me through many more trips – including the several dozen flights we’re taking this year.
My other new favorite thing is my 15” MacBook Pro. I purchased it just before we started our family gap year and it hasn’t failed me yet through many late-night blogging sessions. It’s always lightning fast thanks to the solid-state drive, and the backlit keyboard is extremely handy to use when the rest of the family is asleep in a hotel room. It’s light enough that I can easily slip it into my Lo & Sons O.M.G. without it weighing me down.
– By Melissa
I am a notoriously light packer. I have only checked a bag once in the past 10 years after having one of my bags lost for 72 hours on the way to Amsterdam, and as such there are very few things I really need. However, when traveling internationally, here are three things that will always be with me:
1. My Universal adapter – This handy device can be found as cheap as $10-20, and allows me to charge several devices at a time from any plug in the world. While many hotels (especially US chains) have standard American outlets as well, this is my safety net just in case.
2. A conversion app – My phone is my everything, but having a conversion app is key. I can not only convert currency, but also temperature (I don’t think in Celsius) and distance (kilometers are confusing for Americans). Trust me, you’ll want this.
3. A credit card with no foreign transaction fees – Many cards are starting to get with the program here, but not all. My go-to is the Chase Sapphire Reserve, as it also has trip insurance, rental car insurance, and an international concierge built in, but the elimination of a percentage fee for using it abroad is the most important feature.
– By Jonathan
While I have many amazing pieces of travel gear I never go anywhere without a passport wallet. A passport wallet helps me stay organized while traveling, and I’m happy to say I have never ever lost anything important to me (like a passport).
A good travel passport wallet keeps me from scrounging through my little items at the airport. They are also durable, convenient, have compartments, are stylish, and many have RFID technology. I’ve only had one of these for all my years of travel since they are so durable.
My favorite is the Pacsafe travel wallet because it has RFID technology, a wristlet for nights out, and has a huge number of compartments. If you are looking for something a bit more stylish then you can’t go wrong with a Michael Kors Jet Set Passport Case, however, this may break the budget and this travel wallet does not have RFID technology. There are so many options to choose from so its easy to fit everyone’s style, taste, and budget.
– By Natasha & Cameron
Whenever I travel my packing list is never complete without the following three items. I’ve been including these in my travel packing since I first backpacked around Europe 25 years ago, and I still pack them today on family vacations – whether they are luxury holidays or self-catering getaways.
In my travel packing, I have to have a sarong, pegless clothesline, and a basic first aid kit.
The sarong can be used as a beach towel, modesty cover at religious sites, a tablecloth or a cover-up making my way down to the resort pool.
The pegless clothesline is handy for handwashing to help save on costs whilst on vacation or just to hang out the swimming costumes after a day at the beach or pool. I like to use a pegless washing line that offers both suction cups and hooks for ease of use.
Unfortunately, very rarely does a trip go smoothly with someone feeling ill or getting a scrape. Whilst you could wait for this to eventuate during your trip and then try to locate a pharmacy or, like me, you can create your own essentials first aid travel kit. The top items I include are paracetamol for headaches and fever, antiseptic cream for cuts and scrapes and Band-Aids to help stop bleeding and keep the wounds clean. By having these basic first aid items with me I am reassured and in addition, don’t have to source a pharmacy in a foreign location unless the medical issue is severe – in which case I would want a professional to assess the situation.
Carrying these three items on all my travels has saved me money and created a more hassle-free travel experience.
– By Sally-Ann Brown
Internet access while traveling internationally
Without internet I will start panicking, I admit I am an addict! Everywhere I go I use the internet to make sure I don’t get lost, look for places to stay, cool places to eat and to connect with other travelers of course. As soon as I arrive in a new country I want to make sure I am connected to the internet and depending on how long I plan to travel around, I either buy a local sim card or I use a portable WiFi device.
The portable WiFI device is the most convenient solution as online you pay a set fee per day and you have 24 hours unlimited data connection whenever you activate it. You only pay when you use it so if you purchase 5 days you have to activate it each time you think you need 24 hours internet. With these things, you are connected to the internet as soon as you land.
When I plan to travel around longer in a certain country I do a little research for the best data prepaid sim card. In most countries, this is by far the cheapest option and the most reliable source of the internet on your smartphone. The good thing about a portable wifi device though is that you can have internet access while traveling internationally on 5 different devices at the same time.
– By Tom Grond
There are a few items we never go without when we travel, but one of my most travel essential items are super comfy flat shoes! No matter where you are, you will be doing lots of walking and too often have I taken pretty shoes that were effectively useless for walking around all day long. The next day I woke up in so much pain, and had an itinerary of – guess what – more walking! I think the worst was exploring Rome on my honeymoon! My shoes just couldn’t manage the cobblestone streets and we spent most of the day on our feet.
It is important to get shoes that offer support, that have traction and that allow your feet to breathe when they get hot and sweaty. Whilst I want my shoes to be pretty and to work well with a wide variety of outfits, to me the comfort factor is more important. Also, make sure that you wear your shoes in before you go anywhere. Our favorite shoe brand is Alegria Women’s Paloma Flat.
Two other items that we never travel without is our portable power bank that we use to keep all our technology charged up when we are out and about on day trips. And we also absolutely love our packing cubes (we love our PRO Packing Cubes) which help to keep our suitcases more organized. They are also super handy when you want to lay out the cubes in your wardrobe without having the fully unpack every item.
– By Jolene & Andrzej
A reliable power bank that can hold a charge for months as well as charge a number of items at a time is something I take on our travels all the time. Our Comsol 20000mAh Power Bank can charge up a laptop as well as phones and iPads. Having the LED readout so I know how much power is left is essential too. It holds a charge for weeks too, so no worries that it might be flat when needed!
Being able to backup and share everyone’s images when we travel is essential. Seagate has been making quality gear for ages, it is vital to be able to trust our backup method. Transferring files and images from phones and laptop to our Seagate 2TB Backup Hard Drive is easy, quick and reassuring.
There is something awesome about brewing a fresh coffee wherever we are! As long as we can boil some water, the AeroPress Coffee Maker delivers! It is lightweight and easy to pack. Taking a coffee maker on holiday may seem rather indulgent, but sometimes it is nice to be able to make a good brew and enjoy it quietly rather than at a local coffee shop.
– By Jane Barnes
Having been on the road for more than five years, there are three things that I never travel without: a power bank, noise-cancelling headphones, and a laptop stand.
If you’re like me, you use your phone for everything when you’re on the go: maps, buying tickets, listening to music or podcasts – everything! Unfortunately, using your phone continually drains the battery, which is more than just inconvenient if you have your boarding pass stored on it. Thankfully there are battery packs like the Anker PowerCore 20100, which allow you to charge your phone several times on a long-haul flight.
The next long-haul flight essential is a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. Having tried several different pairs, the best is definitely the Bose QC35. They’re expensive, yes, but no other pair comes close to canceling out background noises like the hum of the airplane, children crying, and general chit-chat. They must be expensive, to begin with, but they’ll pay for themselves in the long run.
Finally, as someone who often works remotely, I travel with a Kensington Easy Riser laptop stand and a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Although this is quite a lot of gear to carry, it is a small price to pay for the neck and back pain I manage to avoid.
– By James Cave
Did you find any new items that you’re going to add to your travel gear? If so, share which one(s) you liked and why in the Comments below ⇓
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Get a list of the 60 pieces of must-have travel gear mentioned in this post.